Chamber of Commerce members, local dignitaries and Santa gathered by the tree after the ceremonious lighting.
Local residents, their families and friends gathered at Veterans Memorial Park on Monday to celebrate the Levittown Chamber of Commerce's Annual Holiday Lighting at an evening ceremony held at the park located just outside the Levittown Public Library. This year marked the first time the celebration was held at this location, as in years past the tree outside Green Point Bank on Hempstead Tpke. and Wantagh Ave. was the place for the occasion.
The ceremony featured several performers from throughout the community who entertained those in attendance with a variety of songs and dances of the season. Among those who performed at the event included the St. Bernard's Church Children's Choir, under the direction of Ernie and Mary Clare Meditz; the Division Avenue High School Marching Band; dancers from Nancy's Dance Factory; children from the Israel Community Center, led by Rabbi Dreifuss and Carol Bergman and the Northside Instrumentalists from Northside Elementary School. Entertainment was also provided by POP Entertainment's DJ Louie Pensa, who played dance music and holiday favorites for the crowd.
Ernie Meditz told residents that the children from St. Bernard's worked very hard to put together their selections. "We are very proud of these kids," he said. "They gave up their Saturday mornings when they could have been watching cartoons to practice so they could sing for their community."
This year's tree lighting ceremony, particularly its location, is part of the Levittown Chamber's ongoing revitalization project for Levittown. The holiday banners which were placed around Veterans Memorial Park for the occasion will be later replaced with patriotic banners. In an effort to spruce up parts of the community, in addition to the tree, the Chamber will be placing "Welcome to Levittown" signs throughout entrances to the community in the very near future. In addition, the Chamber hopes to add a gazebo to Veterans Memorial Park sometime next year.
This year's ceremony was coordinated by Louise Cassano and Steve Haller, and Kevin Regan was largely responsible for having the tree placed at the park and lighted. Division Avenue Deli donated coffee and hot chocolate to help residents stay warm at the event. Event organizers would like to thank the Town of Hempstead for their cooperation with the event, especially their contribution of supplying the electrical outputs for the tree. Hempstead Town Councilman Gary Hudes, who supplied dreidels for the occasion, which were placed near the tree, was present at the event, as were Legislator Dennis Dunne, Assemblyman Marc Herbst and Joel Berst, representative for County Executive Thomas Gulotta.
A special surprise arrived for local children prior to the tree lighting when Santa was driven to the ceremony on a fire truck from the Levittown Fire Department. Santa, with the help of local dignitaries, handed out candy canes and holiday wishes to the children in attendance.
Chamber President Dr. Jacklyn Nogan thanked members of the Fire Department for their support and contributions to the event, particularly since recent times have been difficult for members with the recent memorial services for their lost Chief.
"I would like to sincerely thank members of the Levittown Fire Department, especially during these hard times," Dr. Nogan said at the ceremony. "These people deserve all the respect and applause we can give them."